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How Can I Seriously Count Painful Times As Joy?

I was planning to write this post a few hours before my father-in-law suddenly died August 4th. It is the sequel to my post from last week about Is Real Joy Possible for Me?  I am honored to share these precious spiritual treasures with you – as it so happens – from the midst of a significant trial in my own life.

We live in a fallen world and we all face many kinds of trials in our lives. None of us are exempt. I may not have much control over what trials come my way. But I do have control over my response and attitude.

I am so excited to share some amazing truths with you – truths that will radically change your life and perspective if you are willing to embrace them.

JOY IS MY CHOICE IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I can choose to depend on God’s wisdom, His strength, His sovereignty, His power, His goodness, His love, and His vision. I can choose to trust Him and His Word. I can willingly yield to His Lordship and let Him lead me.

This takes the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes close fellowship with God. It takes practice. It is a discipline we can learn as believers with God’s help. I can begin to see hard times as spiritual tests and opportunities for growth.

When I face difficulties, the Holy Spirit empowers me (if I belong to Christ) to choose to respond in:

  • Faith
    • I don’t know the answers, but I trust that God knows what to do and that He will lead me through this. (Isa. 30:21, Ps. 23)
    • I don’t have the wisdom to solve this dilemma, but I trust that God has wisdom and power in this situation. (Isa. 40:28)
    • I know God is sovereign, good, and loving even now and even over this. (Jer. 29:11-13)
  • Joy
    • I know that God promises to use this specific trial to help me grow in my faith and in spiritual maturity, and that brings me great joy. (James 1:2-4)
    • Jesus invites me to ask for things I genuinely need – according to His will – and to receive from God, that my joy might be full. (John 16:24)
    • A joyful heart is good medicine. (Prov. 17:22)
    • God calls me to rejoice in Him at all times. (Phil. 4:4)
    • I have so many reasons for joy in Christ, even in the midst of my trials (the following is excerpted from www.gotquestions.org).
      • The joy of my salvation.
      • The joy of anticipating God’s deliverance.
      • The joy of God’s presence.
      • The joy of spiritual maturity.
  • Anticipation
    • I can’t wait to see how God will use this awful situation to create something beautiful and good in my life and bring glory to Himself!
    • I want to go much deeper with the Lord! (Eph. 1:15-23)
    • God wants to use hardships to help conform me to the image of Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:29)
  • An Open Heart
    • What does God want me to learn and how does He want to help me to grow in this painful trial?
  • Spiritual Treasure Seeking
    • It is only in the dark caves where people can find diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and gems physically, it is similar spiritually. The greatest treasures are found in the darkest times, if we are willing to look.
    • I don’t want to miss any of the gifts He has for me here.
  • Prayer
    • Lord, I give this situation to You. You see all that I am going through and my suffering. I trust You are with me. I trust You are sovereign and good.
    • I invite Your provision!
    • How should I pray about this situation?
    • Not my will but Yours be done! (Luke 22:42)
    • Is there anyone I should ask to pray with me/for me about this?
    • What step do you want me to take next?
    • I only want to see Your greatest glory!
    • I want Your perfect will.
    • What miracles do You want to do here?
  • Peace
    • In the world, I will have tribulation. But Jesus promises to give me His peace. (John 16:33)
    • God will keep me in His perfect peace when I trust Him and my mind is focused on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
    • I can lay all of my concerns, worries, and fears before God because He cares for me. (Phil. 4:6)
  • Assurance 
    • He is going to make a way for me to make it through this. (Isa. 43:16-19)
    • He is with me and He will never leave or forsake me. (Deut. 31:8)
  • Rest
    • Jesus invites me to come to Him when I am weary and He will give me rest for my soul. (Matt. 11:28-30)
  • Strength 
    • His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)
    • God promises I can do all that He calls me to do through the power of Christ in me. (Phil. 4:12-13)
    • The Lord is my strength and my song. (Ex. 15:2)
  • Thanksgiving
    • I can look for the blessings and provision of God in the midst of my trial. (1 Thess. 5:18)
    • I can give thanks to the Lord for He is good! (Ps. 107:1)
  • Focusing on Positive Things 
    • I can focus on the good things, the Philippians 4:8 things, because whatever I focus on tends to grow in my field of spiritual vision.
  • Receptivity to His promises
    • I learn about God’s promises theoretically as I read His Word. But it is during a crisis that I actually get to rest the weight of my life on God’s promises and experience them in reality.
    • I want to keep all of God’s promises in my heart and stand firmly on them and His Word.
  • Ministry
    • How does God want me to shine for Christ in the midst of this yucky situation? (Phil. 2:14-16, Matt. 5:13-16)
    • How might He want me to be an example, blessing, and witness to others? (1 Cor. 7:16, Acts 1:8)
    • How does God desire me to overcome evil with good here? (Rom. 12:17-21)
    • I can rest assured that God will use my pain – and the comfort He brings to me – to bring comfort, healing, salvation, and to strengthen the faith to others in the future when they hear about what He did for me and how I responded. (2 Cor. 1:6)

This doesn’t mean I won’t have feelings of sadness. I will! I am human, after all. I will have sadness and grief, at times. I will feel frustration and anger, at times. I will hurt. I will have emotions. It is important to feel my emotions and to identify them. But I don’t have to be a slave to my emotions. And I don’t have to be a slave to my circumstances.

Things may look hopeless from a human perspective…

Thankfully, I don’t have to see from a mere human perspective if I know Jesus!

THE BLESSINGS OF TRIALS

Scripture is full of encouragement about the spiritual benefits of our trials as followers of Christ. Here are a few of the blessings my trials can produce in my life as I trust God:

  • Lamentations 1
    • Suffering for sin may help me repent of sin and return to God if I have strayed.
    • God disciplines those who belong to Him for our good, so that we will turn from death and embrace His Life.
  • Matthew 5:10-11 and Acts 5:41
    • Suffering for my faith in Christ means I have been counted worthy to suffer in Jesus’ name.
    • I am blessed if I am insulted, punished, and/or persecuted for my faith in Jesus.
  • Romans 5:3-5
    • I can glory in my sufferings because of the good they will produce
      • perseverance
      • character
      • hope
  • James 1:2-4
    • As I trust God during suffering, He will use my trials to produce good things in me:
      • endurance
      • greater faith
      • greater spiritual maturity
      • spiritual completeness
      • I will lack nothing
  • Hebrews 12:4-12
    • I am to count hardships as discipline from God that will help me learn and grow. His discipline:
      • is verification of my adoption as a child of God
      • brings greater respect for God
      • yields peaceful fruit
      • brings about righteousness
      • is guaranteed to be for my benefit
      • allows me to share in God’s holiness

NOTE – “Counting trials as joy” does not mean that I need to try to create trials for myself, that I should be purposely combative or argumentative, or that I should try to prolong trials. It also doesn’t mean I must stay in a dangerous, abusive situation where I am being severely sinned against if I am able to get somewhere safe.  

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If you have experienced God’s supernatural joy and/or blessings in the midst of a difficult trial, or you have learned something helpful about how to “count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds,” we’d love to hear about it! I’m so thankful we can walk this road together and encourage one another.

RESOURCES

Verses about trials – Open Bible

Verses about God’s wisdom – Open Bible

A list of all of God’s promises – Bible Gateway

Verses about peace – Open Bible

Verses about suffering as a believer – Open Bible

Verses about being persecuted and hated for faith in Christ – Open Bible

Verses about God’s Sovereignty – Open Bible

Verses about finding God’s direction – Open Bible

Verses about strength – Open Bible

“The Peaceful Mom – Building a Healthy Foundation with Christ As Lord” has one chapter on counting trials as joy and one chapter on having an eternal perspective. Most of the chapters in the book would be a blessing to all women, not just moms.

Prayer Day

Prayer is one of the greatest ways that we can talk to the Lord and fellowship with Him. Prayer is not a magic spell. It is about a two-way relationship.
This is an example of a prayer we can pray for ourselves and others that is loosely based on The Lord’s Prayer/The Model Prayer in Matthew 6.
—————
Lord,
 
This is the day that You have made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! You are the Creator of all things. You have wisdom that is infinitely above our own. You are completely good, loving, and holy. You are just. You hate injustice and You love for right to win. You freely lavish such mercy, forgiveness, and grace on us, though we are completely undeserving.
How humbling that You loved us enough to send Your Son, Jesus, to die for us when we were still Your enemies.
 
Thank You for Jesus! Thank You for salvation! You didn’t have to provide a way for us to be with You. But You loved us more than we will ever understand and You wanted to make a way for us to be in right standing with You again – through the cross. Thank You for the cross! Thank You for Your precious Word. Thank You for Your provision for our needs. Thank You for the freedom we have in Christ.
 
Cleanse us from all fear, worry, resentment, pride, self-righteousness, lust, immorality, idolatry (putting other things/people before You in our hearts), false teaching, lies, disrespect for others, prejudice, rebellion, legalism, worldliness, and every sin. Help us to evaluate the things we are spiritually ingesting and help us have the wisdom we need to stop allowing worldly and ungodly influences to have power in our lives. Help us to get rid of everything that You know is toxic in our souls. Help us truly die to our old sinful self and live for You alone.
 
Fill us with more and more of You. We long for Your presence. We long to know and love You more than anything! You alone are the Greatest Treasure. You alone are real love, real joy, real peace, and real satisfaction.
Please provide for our daily physical and spiritual needs. Thank You that You care about our food, our shelter, our clothing, and all of our needs.
Help us to seek You wholeheartedly. Transform us by the power of Your Spirit and Your Word. Give us a deep desire for You and for the Bible. Let us seek You first in our lives by a long shot! Dramatically change the spiritual atmosphere in our circles of influence to carry the sweet fragrance of Christ! Grant us a Spirit of Your love and unity in our homes, in Your church, in our businesses, in our schools, and in our communities.
Bring a mighty Great Awakening that brings millions and millions of lost souls into Your Kingdom. Let Your will be done and Your Kingdom come. Start with each of us and our families and our churches, Lord. We welcome You and all that You want to do to heal us! Help us to receive all that You have already provided for us in Jesus!
 
Make us faithful to You. Help us to long only to please You. Use us to shine brightly for Jesus in a dark, lost, and dying world. You are our only hope, Lord! We rejoice in You! We thank and praise You for all You have done for us and all You are doing and all You will do. Thank You that You have not forsaken us. Help us to cling to Your Word and Your promises. Help us to walk in holiness and obedience by the power of Your Spirit. We need You desperately each moment.
 
Fill us with Your joy. You have placed us here for such a time as this. Help us not to waste one moment. Make us fruitful! The joy of the Lord is our strength! No matter what our circumstances or what difficulties we may face. You are so much greater than our trials. Let us accomplish all that You want to do in and through us. Not by our power, but by Your power. Be greatly glorified in each of our lives!
 
Amen.
RELATED

Prayer for Wives with Critical, Harsh Husbands – by Radiant

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

I appreciate Radiant sharing some prayers with us for wives in various circumstances over the coming months, Lord willing. These prayers are prayers to pray out loud (by yourself) with boldness over yourself, your husband, and your family if you are in Christ. I don’t know if you are aware of it, but we are in a new spiritual season. God is working in extremely powerful ways and answering the prayers of His people to draw us to Himself and to bring a great harvest into His kingdom. Let’s pray for more of His Spirit and for bolder, greater faith than ever before – not for ourselves, but for His pleasure and glory!

We are going to be transitioning a bit on my blog to seek much more of the Spirit’s power for our marriages, our husbands, our families, the church, our countries, and ourselves. My prayer is that we will have a Niagra Falls of God’s Spirit in our lives and on my sites – not just a trickle. I must get out of the way and He must be exalted even more. I will let you know more about this and how God is leading next week.

(If you do not know Jesus yet as your Savior and Lord, please check out this post – and leave me a comment if you want to talk about this.)

—————

Good Father,

We join and align with You in speaking Life, Your glory and Your love into this home, marriage, hearts, and these kids in Jesus name.

 

We declare Your Spirit and love and healing into the dark, cold, and hurt places of each heart in this family. We plead the Blood of Jesus over each person and this home.

We declare new management and dedicate this home and family to You and invite You to reign here.

 

We bind and tell the dark, tormenting things that have been allowed to hang out in this home and around these precious ones to go to the Cross now in Jesus Name. Spirit of despair, go. Fear, go. Critical spirit, go. Spirit of rejection go. Any spirit of lust go in the Name of Jesus. Spirit of division and anger go.  Orphaned spirit (that causes us to feel abandoned and alone), go in the Name of Jesus!

 

We speak Your love and grace and forgiveness into every hurt place. Psalm 103 and Isaiah 61 – we declare over these You love and their home. (Read those aloud putting your family and home in the promises)

 

We place You and Your angel armies as a shield around Your hurting daughter, her home, and family in the Name of Jesus.

 

Help each person receive Your love and be able to forgive those who hurt them and release bitterness to You. You be their shield instead of them having to self-protect and make vows against each other. Melt icy walls and hearts of stone. We declare old chains of toxic lies to break now, and dark prisons to fall apart now as Your Light and love is brought into this family.

 

We place Jesus between each family member and speak salvation and the Spirit of peace in.

We speak Life and blessing to every place that has been cursed and full of injury or death in Jesus’ name.

We bless this marriage and restore the identity of this beautiful Wife and Husband as who they are in Christ.

We receive her identity as a woman, wife and mom as a good thing from Christ and that she is anointed, blessed, and equipped by Him for these roles with this family. We reject the lie that she isn’t enough.

In Christ she has all she needs. Endless supply as she asks for wisdom and energy and discernment etc.

 

She doesn’t have to meet every need of her husband because that is Jesus’ job. She is not the fixer or the one who has to walk on egg shells. She is strong in Christ to love in Truth. Not a doormat. And not a bulldozer. Her goal isn’t to try to be perfect or invisible so her husband isn’t mad. Her goal is to pray Your kingdom come and Your will be done into her husband and her heart and home- and to rest in Your love for them.

 

We declare that Christ is this husband’s head. That He is able to make His servants stand and heal them and bring them into all truth. Light up the darkness. Holy Spirit bring Truth. Reveal Your love. Bring him to a place of walking in surrender to Your anointing and love. Show him his true identity in You and as a man, husband and father. A protector and defender. A servant leader.

Thank You, Jesus!

 

Until then, and even when this husband is doing great, You are the only perfect Bridegroom and everlasting Father. We receive Your care over this family. Thank You Jesus for all You have just released because we ask, seek, and knock in faith!!

For Your glory and according to Your will and heart.

Amen!

A Prayer to Change the Spiritual Atmosphere of Our Homes – by Radiant

Thank you, Radiant, for sharing these prayers with us! 

Ladies, these prayers are designed for you, who are in Christ, to pray out loud with boldness over your life, marriage, home, and family. (If you don’t know if you are in Christ Jesus, please check out this post first):

Jesus,

Thank You that You are here with me and You love me. I receive that You died for me to be transferred out of the Kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. You rescued me and adopted me into Your family to love on me now and forever. As a Christian, this is the Truth, no matter how I am feeling today.

I confess that I have allowed lies, negativity, fear, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, my “rights,” being right, performance, perfectionism, pride, a judging/critical spirit, trying to “fix” others, depression/despair, and/or my relationship ruts to allow hurt, guilt, unrest, and problems into my heart, marriage, home, kids, and relationships. I ask Your forgiveness for that. Forgive me for continuing to be plugged into darkness, Self, and people as my source and identity and as what I look to instead of looking to You and rejecting evil.

Thank You that when I confess my sin to You, You are faithful and just to forgive me my sin and to cleanse me from all. I receive that I am forgiven and free.

I want to change this pattern and atmosphere starting today. I believe You can do this as I ask, seek, and knock – but help my unbelief!

In Jesus’ Name, I confess that I am a daughter of the Most High. I am the Bride of Jesus – the Beautiful One who is Faithful and True.

You have spiritually already seated me in heavenly places with You. I am held close to Your heart at all times. I am deeply and infinitely loved and pursued by You. I am washed with the all-powerful Blood of Jesus and Your Spirit is in me, always connected to me. Nothing can separate me from You and Your love – not even me. You have anointed me with a calling and purpose in Your beautiful Kingdom. You have crowned me with Your love and compassion. You put a crown on my head that says “Holy to the Lord.” I put that crown back on today even though I am not used to wearing it.

In Jesus’ Name – Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit – I invite You in to every part of my spirit, heart, mind and body. Wash all of the dark, cold, unbelieving, fearful, and hurting places in me with Your love and grace. I go back in time with You – all the way to when I was conceived – and I receive that You were always there with me, loving me and holding me – even when I abandoned You or accused You of abandoning me. Even in the worst moments of my life – You were still holding me and loving me. And You have healing for every one of those moments and scars in me.

Jesus, fill all of me up with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that He has already been in me since I was saved, but thank You that You love to give us fresh fillings of Your Spirit to heal, set free, and show Your power and love in and through us. I ask You to reveal anything that is blocking me from hearing Your voice and receiving good things from You in Jesus’ Name. (I confess anything that comes to mind and receive forgiveness).

I invite You into my home, Holy Spirit.

Forgive me and my family for grieving You and being filled with, and worshipping other things instead of You. Please fill every room in my home. Cover my home with Your glory and protection and surround it with Your angels who encamp around those who fear You. I dedicate my home, our rooms, our possessions, our computers and devices, our land, and our vehicles to You for Your kingdom and Your glory. Wash away anything any of us, or people on this land before us, have done that has caused strife and torment and darkness to feel at home in this place.

Thank You that the husband is the head of the wife, and that Christ is the head of the husband. I declare that Jesus is the head of my husband –and He is leading him into all truth (if my husband is not saved yet, I invite God to draw him to Himself because He already loves Him as His own beloved son). Give revelation to him of Your love. Open his eyes and ears and heart to You. I ask for the Spirit of wisdom to be on my husband. Send Your love and grace into every hurt place, scar and wound in my husband’s spirit, mind, heart and body. I ask for Your vision of him – what You are calling Him to be and to do. I receive Your heart and eyes for my husband.

I speak Your love and protection over all of my kids in Jesus’ Name. Call to them and pursue them Jesus.

Show them Your goodness – help them taste and see how much You love them. I break generational curses and sins on us from 4 generations back (things like fear, abuse, addictions, anger, idols) on both my side and my husband’s side of the family. I tell every place that hasn’t been lined up with You in all of us to receive the reign of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I speak Your rest and peace to rule over this house and each of our hearts and relationships. I receive Your heart and eyes for my children. I ask to see them how You do – and to see what callings You have on them.

I receive that I am anointed and equipped to be the mom and wife my family needs as I stay close to You and soak up Your wisdom and love.

Thank You Jesus that You have given us choices. Today, blessings or curses, life or death is set before us. We have power in our thinking and words and choices to choose Life and blessings. That is what You are so lovingly calling us to choose. We choose You today, Jesus!

Thank You for all of the heavenly assignments that have just been released by Your authority as I have prayed Your heart and will and kingdom into our home. I give all of these loved ones into Your hands and I rest in Your provision for each need. Thank You that You are speaking Light into every darkness.

Hallelujah!

OTHER POSTS BY RADIANT

Cinderella and the Gospel (Receiving the love of Christ)

Dealing with a Critical, Perfectionistic Husband

I Can’t Ask for Things. I Can’t Have Needs, Desires, or Emotions

The Spiritual Healing Available to Each of Us in Christ

 

My Husband Doesn’t Speak My Love Language

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

The book, “The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman (which has sold over 11 million copies)  can be a wonderful tool to help us better understand our husbands and ourselves. It has been a blessing to countless marriages and he has written a number of books in the same vein that have helped many people, as well.

The five love languages Chapman writes about are:

  • Words of affirmation.
  • Quality time.
  • Receiving gifts.
  • Acts of service.
  • Physical touch.

From my perspective, it is ideal if both spouses seek to show all of these kinds of love to each other. There are always ways we can grow in showing love.

The book is most helpful, in my view, if we approach the issue like this:

  • X is my husband’s love language, so I am going to learn to start speaking love to him in ways that are more meaningful to him.
  • I also can begin to receive the love language my husband speaks and learn to receive love from him the way he tries to show love.

I have no problem with a wife respectfully asking for what she would like at appropriate times (without making demands or pressuring her husband):

  • Honey, it would mean so much to me if we could spend 30 minutes together tonight talking about our day. I feel so emotionally connected to you when we do that.
  • When you share words of affirmation with me, when you tell me when you see me doing something well, or you share verbal appreciation, that really makes me feel loved.
  • I am so excited that you got me a new coffee table! It is beautiful! I feel SO loved when you pick out a sweet gift for me.
  • Babe, I appreciate it so much when you take the trash out when it starts to get full.
  • I love when we get a chance to cuddle at night and when you play with my hair and show me a lot of physical affection.

However, a pitfall I have seen for some wives (with this or almost any book that talks about marriage) is that it can be tempting to start thinking things like:

  • X is my love language, and my husband isn’t speaking my love language.
  • My husband needs to start doing what I want him to do or he isn’t loving me enough and he isn’t being a good husband.
  • It is my husband’s job to make me happy. He is responsible for my emotions and for me feeling loved enough.
  • If my husband won’t speak my love language when and how I want him to, I’m justified in feeling resentful and bitter.
  • I may even feel justified to sin against my husband if he doesn’t show me love exactly the way I would like for him to.

The enemy would love to use anything, even a great book with many biblical truths, as a springboard to sinful thoughts in our lives. How we must guard our hearts!

CHERISHING RESENTMENT LEADS TO DESTRUCTION

It is very easy to focus on what we want our husbands to do to change. But when we do that, we begin to set up a bunch of expectations – some of which may not be very realistic. Unrealistic expectations invariably lead to resentment. And once we are cherishing resentment and bitterness, we tend to believe we can justify practically any sin against our men. This sin, when it is unchecked, snowballs and gets worse and worse. We may engage in things like:

Once we get into this mode, we are operating in the fruit of the flesh rather than the fruit of the Spirit. It is a recipe for pain and misery. For our husbands. For our marriages. For our children. And for ourselves.

TAKING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN CHRIST LEADS TO ABUNDANT SPIRITUAL LIFE

I know this is not a popular thing in our culture. But when I try to make my husband, my children, or anyone else responsible for my emotional and spiritual wellbeing – I am living in a dysfunctional relationship – or sin. This goes by several names:

As a believer in Christ, my spiritual wellbeing is dependent on my relationship with Jesus alone. I am responsible for abiding in Him and being filled up with Him. I am personally responsible for confessing any sin and for finding my contentment in Jesus alone. I know that if I am experiencing the fruit of the flesh (Gal. 5:18-21) – it is about my character and my walk with the Lord. And I know that if I want to live in the power of His Spirit and have His fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)- that I am responsible to the Lord for turning away from every sinful thing and for yielding myself to the Lordship of Christ.

The way I act, the way I treat my husband (and other people), is about whether my sinful old flesh is in control or whether God’s Spirit is in control of my life at this moment.

In Jesus, I can be content in all circumstances – whether I am receiving love in exactly the way I would prefer or not – through Him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:12-13).

ASKING GOD TO CHANGE ME, MY PERSPECTIVE, AND MY HEART

It’s easy to pray, “God, change my husband!” And there are times when it is right to pray for our husbands to change – to have God’s victory over sin, to have more of His Spirit, to have His wisdom, etc…

But there is such a need for us to first pray most fervently, “Lord, change me!”

If my husband can’t or won’t change or won’t do what I would like for him to do, I can still live in the power of the Spirit. I can still live in God’s peace, joy, patience, and self-control. I can focus on the things God calls me to change – myself. And trust God to work on the things I can’t change – my husband.

I can invite the Spirit to work powerfully in me, my my marriage, and in my husband’s life for His glory, not for my own will. Here are some examples of how a wife might approach this issue in prayer:

  • Lord, help me learn to appreciate and receive the ways my husband does show love to our children and me.
    • He fixed the sump pump last week. THAT was real love right there. I can receive that act of service as a massive gift of love for me and our family.
    • He went with me somewhere even though it wasn’t his favorite place. That was a gift to me.
    • He asked my son to send a picture of my grocery list when he stopped by Walmart and he picked up everything on the list. Wow! He is my hero!
    • He took all of us to the movies over break. He is so generous. What a thoughtful gift.
    • He helped me take my car to the shop today.
    • He replaced my dead car battery last month.
    • He takes the kids to church on Wednesday nights when I am at work.
    • He sits on the outside of the pew at church on Sunday mornings so that he can try to protect us from harm if something were to happen.
  • Lord, help me not get so fixated on “my love language” and what I want that I miss the beautiful ways my husband expresses his love to me and to our children.
  • Lord, my husband isn’t as verbal as I would like. He only gives me a compliment once every year or two. I really love words of affirmation. But maybe You have things for me to learn in this situation. Help me to be open to receiving the lessons and spiritual growth that I can receive from You as I have a husband who is not super verbal. Help me realize that even though words of affirmation are beautiful and powerful, the way my husband shows love to me and our children is just as beautiful and powerful – maybe even more so.
    • Would words of affirmation have been as helpful when the sump pump was messed up and the toilets wouldn’t flush? No, not really. I do like having toilets that flush!
    • Maybe giving gifts is not my love language, but look at all of the thought and research my husband put into the gifts he gave our children, our extended family, and me. He is SO talented at that! It is not my gifting. But I can certainly appreciate that it is his gifting.
    • Maybe my husband doesn’t write me love letters or send loving/flirty texts or emails. I would like it if he did that. But he comes home every night and eats with our family. He is a good provider and a hard worker. He tries to protect us spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically when there is danger.
    • He doesn’t give me a lot of compliments, but he also doesn’t give me much criticism. That is sure a blessing!
  • Lord, help me to learn to give love (and respect – because feminine respect speaks love so powerfully to men) to my husband in the ways that matter most to him. And if something I do to show him love doesn’t really do much for him, help me to see how I can change my approach.
  • Lord, thank You for my husband. He is a gift to me from You. I’m going to write down all of the good things I can think about regarding his character and the things he has done for my children and for me in my quiet time this week.
  • Lord, help me to be a blessing to my husband simply out of a desire to please and honor You.

SHARE:

How has God spoken to you in this post or about these issues in the past? You are welcome to share insights you have learned or struggles you are having so that we might encourage and pray for you.

Much love!

 

 

 

 

Prayer for 2018

Ladies (and Gentlemen),

I invite you to take a few moments to pray together with me over your upcoming year,  your family, your church, this ministry, and the church worldwide. What an awesome privilege that God grants us access to the very Holy of Holies in heaven 24/7 through Jesus and His finished work on the cross on our behalf. We are already seated with Him in the heavenlies!

Lord,

We invite You into our lives to have full control. To be LORD over every area of our lives. You alone are God. There is no other. You alone are worthy of all of our worship, praise, adoration, reverence, obedience, love, sacrifice, and faithfulness. We want to start out this new year with a clean slate together.

CONFESSION

We confess our sins before you. Our own sins. Help us to see clearly anything in us that is toxic. Anything that is spiritual poison so that we can invite You to cleanse us and we can throw it away like garbage:

pride, self-righteousness, idolatry of anyone/anything (anything we desire more than we desire You in our hearts), lust, porn addiction, romantic novel/movie addiction, emotional affairs/infatuation with other men, adultery with other men, drug/food/alcohol/exercise addictions, any kind of addiction at all (they are all idolatry), greed, materialism, apathy, unbelief in You, lack of faith in You, love that has grown cold, hatred, contempt, bitterness, resentment, malice (desiring to harm someone else), taking vengeance for ourselves rather than trusting You to take vengeance, unforgiveness, unbiblical thinking, false doctrine, denying Your power, trusting self rather than You, denying the truth of Your Word, worldliness, trusting worldly human wisdom over Your Word, abortion, murder, abuse toward other people (emotionally, verbally, spiritually, financially, physically), words that speak death rather than life, words that destroy others, words that grieve Your heart, impure motives, selfishness, responding to other people’s sin with sin of our own, dishonesty, stealing of any kind, legalism (trusting our own work instead of Jesus’ work), grieving the Holy Spirit, gossip, gluttony, anorexia, bulimia, disrespecting You, disrespecting our husbands, disrespecting people in positions of God-given authority, divisiveness, unbiblical divorce, sexual sin of any kind, loving with strings attached, trying to control other people, anxiety/fear/worry, stinginess, contention, complaining, arguing, and anything else that displeases You.

We also confess the sin of our church before You. The sin of our church leaders. The sin of our nation. They include all of the sins listed above and even more. Racism, sex trafficking, legalizing and funding abortion, the opioid crisis, dishonesty, injustice, corruption, scandals, sexual sin, abuse of God-given authority, removing God from our schools/government/businesses/homes. Calling evil good and good evil. Forsaking the Bible. Forsaking God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Misleading the people. Promoting lies. Embracing heresy and false teaching. And so many more that are too many to even list.

We come before You like Daniel did – pleading for Your mercy over ourselves, our families, the church, America, and the nations of the world. Not because we deserve mercy. We do not. But because of Your Name, Your character, and Your love. We implore You to forgive us of our sin and to heal our land before we are completely destroyed by our sin. Time appears to be very short, Lord. It seems like we are in the midst of the Great Falling Away that is to occur right before the 7 years of the Tribulation. And yet, we know You will reserve for Yourself a remnant until Jesus returns. Let us be part of that remnant and let many turn to You in one more Great Awakening! We long to see You work in great power in our generation and in our land.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chron. 7:14

How desperately we all need Your forgiveness and the blood of Jesus to cover our sin and to pay for this massive sin debt.

We hate our sin. We turn completely away from it. We don’t want to live like this anymore. We love You! We turn to You for forgiveness to cleanse us from our sin and to make us pure and holy in Your eyes. We want to live for Christ and in the power of Christ. We can’t do anything good in our strength. We need Your Spirit and all that Jesus has done for us already to make us right with You. We receive His finished work on the cross on our behalf. We receive our identity in Christ.

We ask You to raise each of us, our families, the readers here on this blog, and Your church to be a holy generation. Spirit-filled people. Walking in the power of Christ and doing Your will and bringing about Your kingdom every day in our midst. Cause us to become a faithful, obedient people for Your glory!

We come before You humbly, with reverent fear and awe as we think about who You are. The King of the universe. The Creator of all that exists. The sovereign Lord Almighty who holds every galaxy and subatomic particle in the palm of His hand. We think about Jesus, as He appears in heaven right now:

One like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. Revelation 1:13-16

REQUESTS FOR OURSELVES

  • Take 2018 – all of it. Every moment and every day. It is Yours. I give it to You to do with as You see fit. Each moment is a gift from You. I am simply a steward of it. I want to use all of this time for Your glory alone.
  • Take my life. All of it. I give You my health, my money, my family, my marriage, my career, my house, my possessions, my friends, my church, my extended family, my city, my state, my country, and my world. I yield it all before You on the altar in heaven. I want You to have control over all of these things, not me. You have all wisdom. You are sovereign. I am not. You are God. I am not. You are LORD. I am not. I am Your humble servant. You gave everything to me on the cross. You held back nothing. Now I have the honor and privilege of giving You all of myself, all that I am, all of my future, and all that belongs to me. I die to my old sinful self. I die to my will. I no longer seek my will, but Yours alone. I no longer seek my glory, but Your greatest glory! That is truly all that matters.
  • I want to receive Your Spirit – all of it. I want to receive the fullness of my salvation. You promise to give me the power I need to walk in the victory of Christ.
  • I want to live the full-strength version of the Gospel. I don’t want to live a wimpy, watered-down version of the Christian life that is powerless, feeble, and weak. I don’t want to walk in defeat all the time, constantly entangled by sin. I don’t want a worldly version of Christianity that pleases Satan and grieves You. I don’t want to embrace a  wimpy gospel that denies Your power. I want to live like Paul did. And Peter. And the apostles. I want to have faith like Stephen, like all the people in the Hebrews 11 Faith Hall of Fame. I want to live in the power of Your Spirit to have great faith and to experience Jesus’ victory in my daily life like George Mueller, Hudson Taylor, Ann Judson, Lottie Moon, Andrew Murray, E. M. Bounds, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. I want to see You do HUGE things in my life and in the lives of those around me. I don’t want to miss out on a single provision or miracle that You want to do in my life – not for myself – but completely for Your glory. I am willing to do anything to have more and more of You.
  • Surround me with Your hedge of protection from Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy my family and me. I resist the devil and yield myself to You. Place Your covering over me. You are my Shield and Fortress. You are my Rock and Defender. Set Your angels to stand guard over my life. Let Your Word and Your Spirit protect my husband, my children, our marriage, and myself from all of the fiery darts Satan plans to shoot at us. Help me to see the enemy’s strategies and not inadvertently allow myself to fall into his snares. I want to let You cleanse my life of anything that would give him a foothold.
  • I want to grow by leaps and bounds spiritually in 2018. I seek to feast on Your Word daily and be open to all that You want to show me. Only let Your Spirit teach me and reveal Your truth to me by the blazing power of the Light of Your Word. I want to absorb and receive every truth, every promise, every pearl of wisdom that You have for me. I want to drink in Your goodness continually. I want to receive every trial as a blessing by which I might grow in my faith in Christ. I want to count hardships as joy and as Your loving discipline. I am willing to learn to practice fasting. I want to be as close to You as possible. Teach me. Guide me. Lead me. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see all that You have in store for me.
  • I want my life to overflow with the fruit of Your Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23) in all of my relationships.
  • I want to know You more and to experience more and more of Your Spirit, Your presence, Your love, Your healing, Your goodness, and Your truth in my daily life.
  • I want to please You more than anything. I want to be a God-pleaser not a people-pleaser. I want my life to bring You great joy.

REQUESTS FOR OUR HUSBANDS, CHILDREN, AND FAMILIES

  • Bring each one who is still lost into the Kingdom of Christ Jesus!
  • Let Your Spirit pour out in great power over my family this year to accomplish Your purposes and Your will.
  • Let my husband, my children, and my extended family be transformed and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Give my husband and children a deep hunger and thirst for You, Your Word, and Your presence.
  • Expose any wrong thinking, lies, or sin in our family this year that we might repent and turn wholeheartedly to You alone.
  • Cleanse us of any spiritual poison and let us crave the pure milk of the Word and receive Your goodness.
  • Help us to recognize that people are not our enemies. We have enemies, but they are spiritual and unseen and we must use heavenly weapons to fight them, not worldly ones.
  • Help me to create an atmosphere where Your Spirit and my family members feel welcome, safe, loved, protected, and at peace and where Satan and his demons feel very uncomfortable.
  • Let our homes and hearts and minds be filled with Your praises, with thanksgiving, with Your Word, with Your presence, and with Your Spirit of unity, love, and peace.
  • Grant my husband the wisdom and discernment he needs to lead our family well according to Your will.
  • Let me bless my husband and children and speak Your Life to them, living as a godly example to them – not in my power, but in Your power alone.

We invite Your Spirit to enter into our homes full blast. Bring the spiritually dead to life. Cause those who are spiritually oppressed and sick to be raised up in Your strength and in spiritual health. We invite You and implore You to do all that You want to do in our midst in 2018 – in our homes, our families, our extended families, at our jobs, in our coworkers’ lives, and in our churches. Strengthen the persecuted church. Fill them to overflowing with Your Spirit. Use us to help provide for them materially. Use them to accomplish Your purposes and to bring many to Christ Jesus even in the face of the most fierce persecution and warfare. Thank You that You are doing that and that so many are coming to Christ in Muslim countries and in areas where believers are severely oppressed. Thank You that You have not left them or us as orphans. Prepare and equip us all for the persecution we will face as we live boldly for You.

We rejoice in Your provision. We rest in Your love and sovereignty.

Lord, we praise and thank You for all that You have done, all that You are doing, and all that You will do this year. We consecrate ourselves and our families to You. We rejoice and delight in You and in Your will for all of us!

Amen!

SHARE:

If you’d like to share a prayer for our sisters (and brothers) here in Christ in the comments, you are welcome to.

If you believe God is calling you to be a prayer warrior for this ministry, please let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining my email prayer team and I will get in touch with you to discuss things with you.

RESOURCES:

If you are interested in more posts about how to pray, check out these posts.

10 Reasons to Consider Fasting

Lord, I Don’t Want to Do Your Will

Dying to Self

25 Ways to Reverence God

Are You Giving the Enemy Authority in Your Life?

Yielding to the Lordship of Christ

If you want to go much deeper spiritually with Christ, check out these classics:

E. M. Bounds – The Necessity of Prayer (free PDF download and audio version)

Andrew Murray – Absolute Surrender (free PDF download and audio version)

 

Finding Contentment in Christ Alone in Painful Trials

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Three strong believers share about finding contentment in Christ alone even in very painful, difficult, lonely situations where worldly peace and contentment are completely impossible. I pray their words and stories might bless you and your walk with the Lord richly!

From Sister in Christ #1 

I had to hit rock bottom and surrender everything to the Lord before I found that peace and trust in Him. I had to get to the point where I truly realized that my husband and my marriage had been an idol – that I had been depending on my husband to meet my needs, instead of God. So truthfully, the main reason I was so afraid of losing my husband (in the beginning) was because he was the one that I had been looking to – to take care of me, provide for me, love me, and fill me. I knew the Lord, but I had not been fully relying on God for these things – and I didn’t even realize that until after my husband left!

It took my husband leaving me for me to come to the end of myself and surrender to the Lord. And it took many months (actually over a year) before I FULLY trusted God with my life, my husband, and marriage.

I can assure wives that if they will press into the Lord and give Him total control, that they will get to a place of complete trust and have a peace that passes our human understanding! I’m sure there may be other problems on our spouse’s end, too. But the Lord wants to work on our hearts individually. The change has to start with us! There may be a totally different timetable for what God does in a husband’s heart and in the marriage, but the only time table that we have any control over is what we allow God to do in our hearts right now, even through painful, lonely situations.

I remember people telling me things like that and I would just get angry because I didn’t want to hear that I had no control over anybody but myself.

Control issues are rooted in fear – what do we truly believe about God?

  • Are there false beliefs about God that needed to be uprooted?
  • Do we see Him as being totally sovereign, 100% trustworthy, and that He is exactly who the Bible says He is – and that He can do exactly what the Bible says He can do?

That was another thing that I discovered in this journey, that I had false beliefs about God – I didn’t truly believe He had only the best plans for my life. I had to ask the Father to break many strongholds, and to renew my mind by His word.

I had to start speaking out scripture, and hear myself declare it, until I truly believed it.

 

From Sister in Christ #2

You know what? It would be wonderful to have Christ-centered human companionship always, but so often in life, only the Lord stands with us. For example, in 2 Timothy 4

  • “. . .At my first defense, no one stood with me, but everyone deserted me. . . . But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. . . . So I was delivered. . .

Ultimately, it is just us and the Lord who have to cross the “Jordan Rivers” of our lives.

God makes all His best people in loneliness. That is so demonstrable. You study the great souls in the Bible, those great souls – they walked alone — alone with God. Just like great eagles that soar, they fly alone.

That loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God is really within you. But that’s how you can tell He is really living in your heart. You will enjoy it!

God makes us His, alone. He takes us out to be alone to make us Holy. And Holiness is real Happiness. I believe it is because He knows how dangerous co-dependency is. Faith in Jesus combined with action is the only thing that will bring you contentment. I have to be alone very often because of my work and travel schedule. I was so worried when it all started, now, I can’t wait to get alone with the Lord. That’s how I fully refuel.

My goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing – but HIMSELF. . .my GOD.

I lived for the praise, acceptance, and expectations of those around me. Now, I have an audience of ONE. Also, He is now the only One who gets a vote on my worth and value. Jesus had an audience of ONE, His Father. Only God knows why He takes us along these paths. All we can do is keep seeking God in Christ and let Him direct us. He loves you, you have the greatest value. He gave His life for all your worth!

From a Brother in Christ

Two weeks before our 10th anniversary my spouse walked out of the family home with my two children after engaging in multiple acts of adultery with multiple different people. I am now divorced (not my decision), I have sold that family home, split our assets, moved to a different town and have walked a LONG way through the valley of pain since that day.

When a person whom you believed would meet your emotional needs and create fulfillment within you fails to meet those needs, it creates a deep hole within.

We begin to question so many things!! We feel upset, angry, and fearful. For me fear was the overriding emotion.

  • What will this do to me?
  • What will this do to my children?
  • How will I ever heal from this?

At the point of my anniversary I had NO idea what to do or how to heal. But I came to a place where I genuinely surrendered the situation and the outcome of my life to God.

I did NOT have peace or joy when I surrendered it to God, I still felt the pain and fear but I had made a conscious decision to trust God with the process. It was a time of great trial.

Fast forward to nearly 7 months later and I was still grappling with the separation and pain, but still surrendered to God’s will and plan. At this point I was focused on a Christian book that used Isaiah as a springboard to talk about the healing that we can find in Christ. It talked about the fact that Jesus used these prophetic words to illustrate that He was the one who would bind up our wounds, heal our hearts and set us free. And I wanted that far more than anything else!

God graciously opened my eyes and heart to see that in Christ I was loved and accepted without reservation! That the only one who had any right to reject me actually chose to give His life for me!!!

As I saw this, my heart was set free from needing approval or acceptance from my spouse and I knew SO much joy. I knew that if I never had my spouse again I would be more than ok.

And, I am more than ok.

Nearly 2.5 years after my spouse requested a divorce, I AM divorced and all that I feared DID happen, plus more. The trials were so severe that I could not have imagined them. But I am 100% ok and I am thriving in all aspects of life. I enjoy companionship and the love and presence of God in a tangible, incredible way that I did not think possible before I experienced it. I have experienced answers to prayer, fulfillment, and joy that I had no idea was possible. Truly the treasures of heaven are found in Christ.

God has met my needs emotionally, spiritually and physically in every way I needed.

Interestingly, my prayers for a reconciliation were not answered and I realise now that those prayers were made because I wanted to find my identity in my spouse. God could not allow that, my identity must be in Him. Now, I do not pray for a reconciliation, in fact I am reluctant to consider a reconciliation given the history between us. Now I pray for my ex-spouse’s salvation and for my ex-spouse to experience God’s love, as that is of primary importance.

When we try to find our identity in another person we find ourselves in bondage to that person.

When we receive validation, we feel ok. When we do not receive validation, we feel awful. But, when we receive all that God has for us in Christ we can feel ok whether we receive validation from our spouse or not! The words and actions that our spouse gives can be received as a gift when they are positive, recognised as coming from a wounded heart when they are not positive or used as a springboard for prayerful, personal evaluation if they are suggesting things about an area that we may need to grow in.

I pray that you will be able to see again, or maybe for the first time, just what you are worth to Christ. He gave ALL that He was to purchase you, to have you for His own, He ADORES you and wants to know you and love you in a way that you can not imagine. I pray that you are able to release your fear and hurt to God and enjoy this day with Him.

SHARE:

If you want to share a bit about your story and how you are learning to find contentment in Christ alone, you are welcome to share. If you are struggling in this area and want to talk about it, you are also welcome to share.

Much love!

RELATED:

If you are dealing with a very difficult marriage, please check out the healing that is available to you in Christ at Nina Roesner’s eCourse Becoming a Woman of Strength and Dignity. There are lessons to read and watch. And there is a private forum there for women to heal and encourage each other.

A Big Lightbulb about True Contentment

Roots of  Insecurity

Finding God’s Victory over Fear

My Security Is in Christ Alone

A Lightbulb Moment about Loneliness

Ten Reasons to Consider Fasting

 

Fasting is not a topic we discuss much in some church circles – especially not the ones where I have grown up. We’d rather have a big fellowship supper! But fasting is something I believe we may each want to very prayerfully consider. It is a spiritual discipline that benefits believers and the church, particularly in times of distress and great need. It is a way to show that our hunger for the Lord is our greatest hunger of all.

There are specific times when fasting may be especially important:

  1. When we are repenting from significant sin and grieving over our sin before the Lord. (Joel 2:12)
  2. When we are facing serious temptation to sin and we want to appeal to the Lord for victory and His power. (Matt. 4:1-11)
  3. When we are praying for repentance for our families, our churches, or our country and grieving over these sins, feeling the pain the Lord feels over them. (Daniel 9) Surely this is one of the greatest needs our church and nation has today.
  4. When church leaders are prayerfully deciding on appointing new men to lead in the church, particularly pastors or missionaries. (Acts 14:23)
  5. When we have a very serious prayer request and we want to seek the Lord in a deeper way. (Ezra 8:21-23)
  6. In times of great grief, perhaps during times of national mourning. (2 Sam. 1:12)
  7. When we are praying for significant healing – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, or physically – for ourselves or others. (Psalm 35:13)
  8. When there is a great crisis for the church or the nation and we need God’s intervention – there is threat of war, famine, plague, great persecution, etc… (Jonah 3:5-10Nehemiah 9:1Esther 4:3)
  9. When we are praying for a massive movement of God’s Spirit to bring many into the Kingdom – a new Great Awakening. (Check out this article on revivals and fasting by John Piper)
  10. As a regular voluntary habit or occasional practice to draw nearer to the Lord and to grow in spiritual maturity ourselves. (Luke 2:37)

Verses about fasting:

  • ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Isaiah 58:3-7
  • I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. Daniel 10:3
  • “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; Joel 2:12
  • “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:16-18

 

There are a number of kinds of fasting:  *

  • Standard Fast – Avoid all food for a certain period of time and only drink water.
  • Absolute Fast – Avoid all food and liquids for a certain period of time.
    • Esther and the Jews fasted for 3 days when the Jews were threatened with genocide. (Esther 4:3)
  • Partial Fast – Avoid certain foods but other foods are okay to eat.
  • Intermittent Fast – A fast that is for certain parts of the day.
  • Electronics Fast – Avoid distractions like screens, phones, the internet, and social media, to really concentrate on the Lord and on prayer for a certain period of time.
  • Sexual Fast – husbands and wives may choose to do this only by mutual consent, and only for a limited time, so that they may pray. (1 Cor. 7:5)

Who Initiates Fasting?

  • A Christian may decide to fast in secret for himself/herself.
  • Believers may come together to decide to fast together for a specific reason and time.
  • Church leaders may call the local church or the church in a nation or worldwide to fast and pray.
  • Both spouses must agree to a sexual fast and it must have a specific and limited time period.
  • Political leaders may call a city, state, or nation to fast and pray. (2 Chron. 20:3)

 

NOTE* – If you are pregnant, nursing, diabetic, hypoglycemic, or have significant medical conditions, please check with your doctor or medical professional before prayerfully deciding what type of fast you might want to do.

SHARE:

If you’d like to share resources on fasting or about how fasting has been a blessing in your life, you are welcome to share!

RESOURCES:

www.gotquestions.org has a number of posts about what fasting is and the importance of it.

Types of Fasting – by www.gotquestions.org

John Piper’s articles on fasting

Fasting for Beginners – by David Mathis at www.desiringgod.org

 

Other People Don’t Always Know What You Should Do in Your Marriage – by The Satisfied Wife

 

This post is by The Satisfied Wife (AKA WorthyofLove). She is in a very difficult marriage with a husband who tends to be rather harsh at times – and yet, what God is doing in her heart is SO beautiful! I appreciate her willingness to share with us:

ON SEEKING GOD ALONE TO KNOW HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES

In each of our lives, the only thing we can rely and trust in is the Lord, and His Word. There really are no other guarantees in this life. He is our greatest need, and our only source of life. When you are in a toxic marriage – it really is a great opportunity to seek the Lord with all your heart. I have found in my own life, being around toxic relationships and people is what drove me to Him in the first place. God can use anything to accomplish His greater purposes! Way before finding April’s site, I was driven into the arms of the Lord and His Word. It was the only place I found true rest and hope.

In my experience, seeking the Lord alone for the truth in your marriage is what will matter most in moving forward not only with the Lord, but in your marriage.

THE DANGER OF SEEKING HUMAN WISDOM ALONE
I honestly never sought anyone’s opinion about my marriage or life in the first place. I sought the Lord wholeheartedly, though. And through seeking the Lord above all – that is how I was led to His Body (April’s site). And once led to the Body, the Lord has been able to teach me so much truth and He has truly opened my eyes in so many ways since finding April’s blog.

However – at one point – I, too, found myself relying on what I was learning through the blog, along with what the Lord was teaching me, to direct my steps completely in terms of my own personal life and marriage. Because at that point, I was desperate for answers, and willing to try anything to “fix” my marriage.

When we are desperate for answers—we are at the greatest risk of being deceived about what our next step should be. Especially if we are not truly crucified to the flesh—and we have a predetermined will of our own. We will look for the answers that match our own will—and believe it is confirmation of God’s leading. We must first be truly crucified to our own will and ways—and seek only to know God’s will and ways.

That is the power of God working here. Many women might come there to find answers about their marriage and how to get their husband to love them a certain way, etc… but what they find is Christ Crucified as the Power of God! AMEN!

JESUS IS THE ANSWER
We can read and learn all we want about marriage, respect, submission, how to handle difficult people, how to walk in the Spirit, how to do this, that and the other thing. But knowledge of all that is NOT what will get you through the actual reality of your daily life living within a toxic marriage.

Your Spirit union with the Living, Risen Lord Jesus is what will get you through the toxic marriage. HE is what is needed. Not a list of rules. Not human wisdom.

If I adhered to all the “research” and “wisdom” of this world—I would be divorced already. I would have given up the first time I felt I was slighted or mistreated without a cause. That is the answer that the world gives to women who are in a toxic relationship. And perhaps that MIGHT be the answer that the Lord ultimately leads you to in certain situations (that are biblically supported).

The point right now is that when we are in a toxic marriage, and we are cowering under the oppression and fear of what will happen all the time – the most important thing is not what April says, what anyone human, or book (Christian or otherwise) says – it is what the Lord says. It is what He is leading you to see and do, that matters most. And He is not afar off – if we are in Christ and belong to Him, He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Christ Jesus has forever secured our entrance into the Presence of God by His precious Blood shed on the Cross! That is a FACT. Your feelings are NOT fact.

If any precious woman finds herself in a toxic marriage after evaluating in a godly way what is really going on – the best thing she can do is truly set aside some time, and seek the Lord. Pour out her heart to Him. Depend on Him alone for guidance, wisdom, and truth. (Maybe refer to Andrew Murrays “Waiting on God” and “Absolute Surrender”).

LOOK AT THE FACTS

Having already been through this more than once, the greatest thing when seeking God alone for truth has been to look at the FACTS.

  • The facts from the Word of God that tell us who we are, who God is, What God can do, etc.
  • The facts about how I am being treated (look to actions of spouse not words)
  • The facts about how I am acting/reacting to this treatment

A fact is a fact. It is what happened. It is what has been proclaimed. The biggest blinders in this process are your own feelings, because we all know that sometimes our feelings are actually NOT facts.

So I’ll say this – in my case, when my feelings matched the facts – I took them as real. If I felt as though I was being manipulated/controlled inadvertently, and I looked at what my husband did, compared to what he said – I found it was true how I felt.

HOW TO SEEK GOD

Seeking God, to me, has meant that I stop looking to anyone, anything, any system, and other source – except God alone to guide me, save me, provide for me, etc…

It means that I pray – I spend time reading His word and other trusted sources of spiritual food. I wait for Him and I depend on Him. Utterly. Wholeheartedly.

  • To speak to my heart.
  • To open my eyes.
  • To fill me with His Spirit
  • To save me from my own self
  • To save me from the fiery darts that are coming at me from the devil.

Be aware – any one who sets their WHOLE heart on God is a target of Satan. Don’t be shocked to find that yes, your very husband can be a tool in the devil’s hands to paralyze you spiritually – to trip you up and stop you at ALL COSTS from seeking God! Because when we seek God alone – we let go of all the things of earth -and when we are in our spiritual position with Christ by faith – we walk in His power and we are a HUGE threat to the Satan and his kingdom.

The Spirit of God is the Spirit of TRUTH. He cannot lie. He will not lead us into lies if we set our heart on Him alone. He will open our eyes, and grant us a revelation of Christ Jesus in our hearts – and when we see Christ alone -we will know Him and the Bible says that Christ is wisdom to us—CHRIST is wisdom! In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom. So then, more than anything else, we need knowledge of Christ in our situations!

 

The Treasures of God in the Midst of a Great Storm

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From a wife whose husband threatened divorce a year ago and who wants to share with other wives who are in extremely painful situations similar to her own:

I want others to know that I had many “turn the corner” moments over the last year. I am approaching 1 year since the bomb drop and have been reflecting on it.

At this point, my advice is to stop focusing on your problem marriage and focus on your God.

Take your entire life right now, and start looking at what is GOOD. Your marriage may not be in that list, but your health, kids, family, job, appreciating nature, celebrating how much you have learned about yourself and God from where you were, this blog as a resource for encouragement, each and every day that God gives you to be one day closer to fulfilling your destiny. All are things to celebrate.

When I stopped focusing on my marriage day in, day out and forced myself to do something nice for other people, I turned a giant corner! My husband even noticed. He commented that he doesn’t understand how I could be “happy” when our marriage was a mess. Yes, marriage IS a mess, but I everyday I am moving forward with it. And everyday I can also notice all the things that are “right” in my life. Accepting that my life may not or ever be 100% perfect is huge for me, a perfectionist. Trying to achieve perfection in every area of my life was making me crack. As I hyper-focused on my crappy marriage, my health was suffering, my kids were feeling neglected, my work was not getting my full attention while I was there, my family felt helpless.

Eighty percent of what was good in my life was getting sucked into the mire along with my marriage. It needed to stop.

  • I started walking and listening to praise music, thanking God for teaching me every day how to learn from him.
  • I began to sleep. I even prayed for the gift of peace and sleep.
  • I started taking time to talk to the elderly at the nursing home I work at, I felt GREAT when I could comfort them, and if I found a few that loved God too, we would talk for hours!
  • I helped my mom with a few projects.
  • I dove into doing things with my kids.
  • I started my hobby back up. Never in a consuming way.
  • I took care of my needs.

I looked at my husband as an out of control storm. He was hurting me, raging inside, confused, hurting himself, and I couldn’t fix it. I could only stay out of his way and let God calm that storm.

I COULD, however, not aggravate the storm. I did this by not forcing my husband to see my point of view. Not demanding his time. Listening to understand HIS feelings, even though he didn’t want to even hear about mine. Stopped trying to “fix” our marriage, my husband, his feelings or demand forgiveness from my husband. The more I lived to seek approval from God and not my husband, the less guilty I felt and the less blame I took on.

If my husband was going to be in a cranky mood or criticize, I no longer took that on as my responsibility to fix. I focused on me not reacting to it, not barking back, not getting my point across or arguing. We literally did not talk for an entire month because I wasn’t arguing anymore. I knew my husband didn’t care about my point of view, was consumed by his own hurt and emotions and could not give me what I craved and wanted from him so badly. So I asked God for it. He delivered. The whole mood shifted.

Today: things are calmer. I speak very sparingly. More facts, every day items, kids, schedules. Not at all the loving husband I want, but not the monster I feared anymore, either. We do not have sex, we barely touch, but he has started kissing me on the forehead again. No more fist bumps or just walking away. I hear “I love you” occasionally. He is attempting to come home more. I have let him be responsible for his own doctor appointments, prescriptions, schedule, and meals. I am cheerful and pleasant, I include him and invite him, but I don’t berate him if he doesn’t show. His relationship with the kids is his to deal with. I work on my relationship with the kids.

I am still working out how to talk to my husband about my needs, wants, and feelings…I know I am not there yet, but working through it. I think my husband is starting to open his eyes. He feels he has let us down, says we deserve more of him than he has given. Seems like small steps, but I hit my knees in thanks to God when my husband said this! Everyone thought I was crazy for putting up with all of this unloving behavior from my husband, but I stayed because I promised God. I was not being abused, no addictions, no infidelity.

I have seen the small changes and am glad for them. Am I eager to run forward? Yes, but I don’t. Do I sometimes want to lay into my husband and blow like a volcano until everything I ever felt, thought, hurt about came boiling out and I exhausted myself? Yes, but how hurtful would THAT be?

It may feel like a Friday, but Sunday is coming! Jesus died on the cross on a Friday, but He rose again on Sunday and in doing so. Saved us all from death. This is what true faith does!

I know in my heart that God didn’t take me this far just to leave me. I don’t know if my husband and I will be reconciled. I don’t know if he will one day just leave or one day have a rebirth in Christ like I did! All I know is I am NOT sovereign and I can only control and run MY race. The rest, well, God has it covered. Whew, too much for me, anyway.

RELATED:

My Husband Wanted a Divorce (same author as this post)

A Peaceful Separated Wife – Kristin’s story part 1

A Separated Wife Finally Begins to Experience the Peace of God in Her Life!

A Peaceful Divorced Wife – Kristin’s story part 2

Can You Pray Too Much for Your Marriage?

My Husband Said, “You Worry Too Much!”

Why Doesn’t My Husband Support Me More As I Try to Change?

Twenty-three Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

Could Your Husband Be Trapped in Shame?

Six Things I Learned from Having an Unbelieving Husband

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